You are having Braxton Hicks or…at least you think so. Read on to find out what do Braxton Hicks feel like, what are they, and how to get relief.
Braxton Hicks? What are they? Where do they come from? When do they start? How do you know if you are having Braxton Hicks? All valid questions many first time mamas ask. I remember asking this question with my first and after weeks of having “gas” off and on, I realized I was actually experiencing Braxton Hicks! So, to clear any confusion for you, let’s dive right in.
What Are Braxton Hicks?
Sometimes Braxton Hicks can be referred to as “false labor.” This is because they basically are your uterus prepping for the big day. Braxton Hicks are the body’s way of toning the uterus, although these contractions don’t cause dilation so don’t be afraid of them causing preterm labor. They are totally normal and every woman experiences Braxton Hicks although some women don’t feel them at all! Braxton Hicks can be triggered by dehydration, sex, too much or too little exercise or a full bladder too!
When Do Braxton Hicks Start?
Braxton Hicks can technically start pretty much at the beginning of pregnancy but for most moms, they don’t notice them until second trimester, around week 20. First time moms especially may not feel them at all though, so don’t be concerned if you haven’t felt any yet!
What do Braxton Hicks Feel Like?
Most women describe Braxton Hicks as a mild tightening of the stomach. Usually this tightening is felt on the front of the uterus but can migrate to the whole belly. These contractions are usually higher in the stomach than menstrual cramps which can help to differentiate them from labor contractions. Most people will say that Braxton Hicks don’t hurt but I beg to differ. Many, many women (who’ve even had previous babies) will say their Braxton Hicks can be borderline painful. Never excruciating pain but just enough where you can’t sleep and they are beyond annoying!
How Long Do Braxton Hicks Last?
Braxton Hicks are unpredictable. This is one of the things that separates them from true labor contractions. They will be irregular and come and go randomly. They may last for 30 second or longer and you can experience them a couple time an hour, each day. Some days you may notice more Braxton Hicks than others which can be due to different activities. These uterine contractions will also usually increase in frequency as you get closer and closer to birth. But, as I mentioned above, many first time moms don’t feel them so if that’s you, don’t be afraid you won’t go into labor!
How Do You Tell if You’re Having Braxton Hicks?
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you are probably experiencing Braxton Hicks:
- A tightening-feeling in your stomach, sometimes feel almost like gas pains
- Cramping in your upper abdomen
- Random contractions that aren’t growing closer together or in intensity
- Go away after time, rest, walk, water, or bath
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What Causes Braxton Hicks?
Often times, you will experience these regardless of the activities you are doing as they are just a part of pregnancy, especially as you near your due date. However, some things have been known to trigger them, such as:
- Walking/exercising too much
- Resting for long periods of time
- Full bladder
How Can You Tell Braxton Hicks from Real Labor Contractions?
This is obviously a very good question to know especially as you approach your due date. To put it simply, Braxton Hicks contractions will be irregular, not equally timed apart, will not grow in strength or closer together and will go away after time, rest or water! On the other hand, true labor contractions will become consistent, equally timed apart, grow closer together, grow in strength and won’t go away after rest, water, and time.
Basically, labor contractions will be longer, stronger, and closer together which you’ll be able to tell more easily after time passes.
What Can You Get Relief from Your Braxton Hicks?
As I mentioned, Braxton Hicks can be annoying and even borderline painful for some women. Here are a few things you can try at home to relieve your Braxton Hicks:
- Changing Positions
- DRINK LOTS OF WATER! Dehydration is one of the most common causes of Braxton Hicks
- Warm Water- try a bath or a warm shower, the warm water can help the uterus and you to relax after a long day
What’s My Experience With Braxton Hicks?
I didn’t feel any contractions with my first till I was past 40 weeks and still ended up with an induction! I was sure that’s why I never went into labor, that was…until I educated myself more!
My second pregnancy, I got them around 20-25 weeks or so and they felt exactly like the tightening stomach. It really feels like my stomach becomes rock hard and it almost makes it hard for me to breathe and then they slowly go away. I found drinking a lot of water and a bath usually helped if they were getting really annoying to deal with.
Now, with my third pregnancy, I have been getting them a lot more frequently this time around which means my uterus knows what it’s doing! They still feel like the tightening, and my stomach does feel rock hard but sometimes these are also accompanied by super light menstrual type cramps as well.
These are my personal experiences, but every woman may feel or describe their Braxton Hicks differently.
How Would You Describe Your Braxton Hicks?
Are you experiencing Braxton Hicks? What do they feel like?
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